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The BBC's Jane Standley in Johannesburg
"The report finds that most officers are still white"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 September, 2000, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
SA army 'in racism crisis'
South African troops in Lesotho
South African troops intervened in Lesotho in 1998
South Africa's armed forces are in crisis because of a failure to integrate white and black soldiers, according to the country's government.

A Department of Defence report says the majority of officers are still white, while most ordinary soldiers are black - six years after integration began between the armed forces and guerrilla fighters.

South African troops
South African troops are said to be demoralised
It says the result is racism, which "manifests itself in many ways", from abusive language and assault, to discrimination in accommodation and in disciplinary proceedings.

The report, published by Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, says lack of money is another problem facing the military. But correspondents say this problem is common to all of South Africa's public services.

"Military culture is in a crisis because there has not been exercises to build the much talked about one army concept," the report said.


There is alienation between the mass of troops and the leader group

General Nyanda
General Siphiwe Nyanda, head of the South African National Defence Force, highlighted the fact that most officers were white while most ordinary soldiers were black.

"There is alienation between the mass of troops and the leader group," he said. "It is not something you can transform immediately. It is a process."

Full recommendations will be made later this year on how to change things. But already the Department of Defence says civilian judges who are black should be brought in to sit on military discipline panels to ensure fairer treatment.

The report said the closure of military bases with the army's reduction to a force of 86,000 had led to hardships for remaining members who had to move further from their families.


Absences without leave had climbed sharply but little or no consideration was given to the offenders, the report said.

A further problem facing the army was that its personnel were getting older, the report said, noting that the average age was now well over 25 years.

Mr Lekota said new equipment due to begin arriving shortly would help ease some of the problems, but there had to be a fundamental shift in approach and attitudes.

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19 May 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The brutal imprint of apartheid
30 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa: Racism runs deep
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